Budget Cuts Will Make Education Fall Further Behind: Local Union Head

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The president of a local teachers federation says close to $1-billion trimmed from the education budget will have a huge impact on students and teachers.

Ontario's finance minister delivered his second pandemic-era budget aimed at helping the province recover from the COVID-19 outbreak. It contains $6.7-billion for pandemic-related measures, including one-billion for the vaccine effort, and an additional $2.3-billion for testing and contact tracing this year.

Mario Spagnuolo is the President of the Greater Essex Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario. He tells The Afternoon News funding cuts will begin in September.

"I think this government believes that COVID-19 and the pandemic are going to end by Labour Day Weekend, because the funding sure doesn't match the needs in our system," he added.

A memo, earlier this month from the provincial government indicated the cuts would eliminate thousands of jobs for principals, teachers, early child educators and custodians.

Spagnuolo says those job losses are a certainty at this point.

"I know that it will impact class size, so it's going to affect jobs in the teaching sector," he says. "It also effects teacher and student learning conditions in terms of mental health supports, student with special needs and their supports."

He says students are already behind due to the pandemic.

"Teachers have not been able to spend the same amount of time on curriculum that they normally would have and the government has acknowledged this, yet they're not doing anything about it," he says. "I don't even think it will be next school year. I think it's going to take several school years to make up for what this pandemic has done."

The government's plan projects a deficit of $33.1-billion for the year, with the province saying it will take until 2029 to balance the books.